Introduction Knowledge is power
Knowledge is power. Thus to better understand a topic such as Victimology one should understand the key terms. According to The Law Dictionary Victimisation is singly out one person of a group or an individual on their own and giving them unfair and unwanted treatment along with other wrongs (Black’s: 2018). Victimisation can be emotionally, physically and psychologically harmful for people. Victimisation can include individuals as well as groups that have not been “given informed consent”, who are “forced to participate” and is not capable of making good judgement (Kauzlarich, Matthers; Miller: 2001). A Victim is defined by the Department of Justice in Canada “as a person who has suffered physical or emotional harm, property damage, or economic loss as a result of a crime” (Government of Canada: 2016). The term victim cannot only be viewed in this narrow legalistic way of when to decide who becomes a victim and whether or not they meet the criteria to be a victim that the state will help as long as it is according to the law there are different forms of victims (Rothe; Kauzlarich, 2014:22). The Constructionist identifies a victims when an event has occurred between people and the one person finds this event unpleasant, out the persons control and is violating shared norms between the people so others view this event as wrong (Rothe ; Kauzlarich, 2014:22) . The Victimilogical perspective states that the victim is in control of their victimisation whether it is because of bad judgement or participating in events that can lead to victimisation (Rothe; Kauzlarich, 2014:23).The main point is that the line dividing victim and offender is a bit blurry. Victimology is the scientific study of victimisation as well as the relationship between victims and offenders ,victimology is focused on studying the victims of crime to be able to better understand a case (Uslegal: 2018).
Victimology may not be an old discipline,but is provides us with information that is useful in courts. Victimology consists of History even though it is not an old discipline, along with paradigms and theories that shows a patterns in how victims are chosen by offenders and what causes victimisation in society.
History Behind Victimology
When the history of Victimology started is unknown, but this journey started in ancient times or at least that is what is believed by the European Culture who used Mesopotamian cultures as a reference to when it all began (Peacock, 2013:4). The Western point of view used the code of Ur- Nammu as reference they believed that when an offense has occurred the offender has to pay the victim (Peacock, 2013:4). Africa’s Victimology took place during the era of 2400BC with the same values of Egyptians Maat, but Africa incorporated it into Ubuntu (Peacock, 2013:4).
European Victimology was set on the idea that people wanted revenge, but was not able to thus they needed the law to punish the offender (Peacock, 2013:5). Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794) focused more on the nature of criminal law and the abuse of power (Peacock, 2013:5). Beccaria handled the ruling class victims and the insignificant class victims rationally (Peacock, 2013:5). Beccaria wanted equality and freedom for each individual no matter what class they are (Peacock,2013:5).
The Western Victimology lived by the law created by King Hammurabi (Peacock, 2013:4). They viewed King Hammurabi’s law as more modern compared to that of others (Peacock, 2013:4). According to Peacock the King did not want the powerful and strong to harm the weak and poor (Peacock, 2013:4). Western Law stated that if the offender was not caught then the authorities had to compensate for any loss (Peacock, 2013:4). In ancient times kings ruled thus if conflict wanted to be avoided the king had to be in good control of everything (Peacock, 2013:4).
Ancient Times were not the easiest of times, slaves were regarded as property by the landlords so whatever compensation the slave received the landlord took to make up for the lack of work done by the salve and money that may have been lost due to the lack of work (Peacock, 2013:4). As this action occurred a lot the state started to take control as they did not care about any personal or private gain that one party may achieve (Peacock, 2013:4)
To assume that Africa was a dark country with no laws or costumes would be incorrect (Peacock, 2013:4). Africa’s rules of law formed part of African tradition and differ from the rules of law of Europe. African law was created to restore harmony. To achieve harmony the offender, victim and the community were to come together to give clarity on the matter at hand. (Peacock, 2013:4). In extreme matter African law will provide needed punishment, but African law does not want to create criminals they would rather keep balance within the community (Peacock, 2013:4).
Africa’s laws will make us of shaming as a form of deterrent for future behaviour. Africa is focused on keeping the innocent safe and being there for the victims and deterring the offender according to the community’s input (Peacock, 2013:4).
Despite the different references used by different countries a specific date was discovered. Victimology started to assemble in the 1940’s, when Criminologists started to study crimes and the victims. Hentig and Schurink, two criminologist states that the first criminologist to create the term ‘Victimology’ was Mendelsohn in 1956, but Fattah argued that the American Psychiatrist Frederick Wertham coined the term (Garkawe, 2001:92). Since Sutherland gave birth to Criminology more and more knowledge about Victimology came about and people got more informed not only students but lectures as well. The victimological view has changed over the years from dominant retributive and classical way to a more restorative justice way thus creating a new Victimology view (Fisher ; Jerin, 2014: 403).
Positivist Victimology had the biggest impact on the criminal justice policy as it wanted change in the policy to focus on crime victims (Garkawe, 2001:88). Positivist Victimology was largely known as ‘Law and Order’ (Garkawe, 2001:88). To start with, this paradigm is concerned with the strength of the state and the criminal justice systems that are implemented in the community such as police officers and other resources (Garkawe, 2001:89). The police will be prepared to whatever they must to victims to obtain greater power, leading to the possibility that they want to overpower everyone and be seen as more powerful and only they can inforce the Law and Order (Garkawe,2001:89). Not to mention, that the Positivist Paradigm is centred on retribution in the justice system (Garkawe, 2001:89). As rehabilitation and reformation has failed the only way is to penalise those who have done wrong (Garkawe, 2001:89). Positivists believe that individuals can prevent themselves from being victimised, they believe that there is only so much the government can do the rest is up to the community and the individuals living in the community.
However there are some critique to the Positivist Paradigm (Garkawe, 2001:90). For instance, there is no change in crime rates and the community does not feel safer even though the police have been given more power (Garkawe, 2001:90). Secondly, Victims cannot be defined in narrow terms as there are victims that do not fit the prescribed guidelines of what a victim may be or may have gone through and the positivist paradigm is yet to understand this (Garkawe, 2001:90). This paradigm turns a blind eye to the crimes committed by those of power in the state (Garkawe, 2001:91).
Even though there is critique, this paradigm is still important as it created the policies and created retribution which is needed in cases to protect the community.
Critical Victimology endures a lot of labelling that happens within this paradigm (Garkawe, 2001:91). The labelling of the types of idealism such as left idealism occurs and even how Critical Victimology came about the term was a processes of labelling (Garkawe, 2001:91). Critical Victimology views crime as social inequalities and not as the responsibility of an individual (Garkawe, 2001:91). The blame is on unemployment, poverty, racism and so much more that is the breeding ground for crime (Garkawe, 2001:91). This paradigm questions whether the police should really receive all of the power and if that power cannot be invested into a restorative justice system (Garkawe, 2001:92).Some want to take away the retributive way of dealing with offenders.Critical Paradigm states that it is not the individuals fault for being victimised but rather the communities fault (Garkawe, 2001: 92).
Some critique against Critical Victimology is as follow. Firstly, the fact that people want to take away the power of the retribution that follows is going to lead to a lawless community that are seen as to weak to punish the offenders (Garkawe, 2001:93). It was seen that this paradigm ignored some of the day-to-day crimes, because it was to idealistic.
Radical Victimology places importance on so many concepts. Such as, the importance of crime and what it does to people and the effect it has on people (Garkawe, 2001:96). Secondly, crime should be closely monitored and studied to try and find the source for when crimes occur (Garkawe, 2001:96). As well as, crime should be a serious matter that must be under control at all times (Garkawe, 2001:96). Radical Victimology uses deterrence rather than retribution like prisons. Thus stating that the police force and laws should not be taken away, but the police force should be more focused on in the prisons and is only needed when as a last resort (Garkawe, 2001:96). This paradigm wants a more humane way of handling offenders and only wants the best for the community and the law (Garkawe, 2001:96). No paradigms has none critique so as follow, this paradigm is a combination of critical and radical victimology and is not that concerned about the positivist victimology (law and order) (Garkawe, 2001:97). Another critique is the fact that the police cannot force the law upon the community which will bring control (Garkawe, 2001:98). Radical Victimology is viewed as not being harsh enough when it comes to crime (Garkawe, 2001:98).
The Radical Victimology consists of two sub- paradigms namely Pathetic and Heroic Paradigms. Pathetic Paradigm is when the victims is seen as vulnerable and is innocent in the overpowering force of suffering (Meyers, 2011:255). Whereas, the Heroic Paradigm is victims that will fight for their rights and go against state laws to achieve the goal (Meyers, 2011:255).
In the 1950’s, Marvin Wolfgang conducted the first study of the victims involvement in a crime (Meier &Miethe, 2009:461). The term Victims Precipitation was used to describe all the direct contact crime such as murder, assault and robbery (Meier& Miethe, 2009:461). This theory support the statement that victims initiate their own victimisation through some actions. The importance of historic studies should be acknowledge as it brought about the theories we have today (Meier& Miethe, 2009:462). To start with, after the study of victim’s involvement in a crime more attention was also placed on indirect crime such as taking part in risky event and having poor judgement (Meier;Miethge, 2009:462). In addition, the other two theories came into action. As the victims lifestyle and routine may have created the opportunity for a crime to occur.
Less than 20 years ago the lifestyle theory was developed by Gottfredson, Hindelang and Garofola (Meier;Miethe, 2009:466). The goal of this theory is to explain why only some people will be victimised and other not (Meier;Miethe, 2009:466). This is all because of the differences in the personal lifestyles of victims (Meier;Miethe, 2009:466). One’s lifestyle is an important factor when it comes to victimisation as it will result in whether or not a person is exposed to dangerous place or not (Meier&Miethe, 2009:466).
People’s daily activities will either bring them closer to being victimised as they may be brought into contact with crime in public places or whether they will be home which will lessen the chance of being victimised (Meier;Miethe, 2009:466). A person’s lifestyle is determent by social interactions. Some factors can contribute to being victimised. Firstly, Gender stereotyping causes people to socially interact with different social groups that may lead to actions that contribute to victimisation (Meier&Miethe, 2009:468). Secondly, a person income can determine your daily activities. A person with a low income is restricted to a certain house, transport and activities so chance are greater to be victimised as there is no room to chance ones routine (Meier&Miethe, 2009:468). A person with high income is not bound to certain housing, transport or activities, they have more room to change the day-to-day activities as well as lessen the chance to be victimised (Meier&Miethe, 2009:468). Even though these factors are pretty straight forward it is not for certain the way victimisation will occur.
Lifestyle Exposure theory and Routine Activity Theory are very much the same (Meier&Miethe, 2009:470). Routine activity theory was developed by Cohen and Felson (Meier&Miethe, 2009:470). In both theories the emphasises is on what the victim can do to decrease victimisation and no attention is given to the offenders wrong doing (Meier&Miethe, 2009:470). The main difference between the two theories are that routine activities theory was developed to try and understand the increase in crime rates whereas lifestyle exposure was created to understand the different victimisation risks (Meier& Miethe, 2009:470). Routine Activities are all the basic activities a person goes through their day-to-day life such as work or going to the grocery stores to but food. According to Meier and Miethe’s research “humans are located in ecological niches with a particular tempo, pace and rhythm” (2009:471). Some people will change their daily routine and this can mount to offender seeking other victims (Meier; Miethe, 2009:471). A routine can either make a person a target of crime or a routine can help to decrease the chance of becoming a victim of crime. If social change occurs it can increase the opportunities of becoming a victim (Meier;Miethe, 2009:471). Offenders are attracted to items that are portable and high in money value such as televisions or computers (Meier; Miethe, 2009:471). People who are not aware of their daily activities expose themselves to victimisation (Meier;Miethe, 2009:472). Such as, people living together but are not necessarily related for example a student house, can lead to victimisation as they may need more household items and thus making their home more attractive for offenders to target (Meier; Miethe, 2009:472). To continue, if people start part taking in activities outside of their house the protection provided by numbers of people start to decrease (Meier; Miethe, 2009:472). Guardianship over a child or more than one person in a household will increase protection.
Application : Case Study – Princess Diana
Princess Diana was the Princess of Wale married to Prince Charles and had two children with him, Prince William and Prince Harry. Princess Diana was born on 1 July 1961, due to her father earned the title Earl Spencer, Princess Diana became a Lady. Princess Diana met Prince Charles in Althrop in 1977, she was sixteen at the time and he was twenty-nine. The two of them got married on 29 July 1981, after the marriage Princess Diana obtained some duties that she needed to do such as helping the aged, being part of the British Red Cross, the British Deaf Association and headway. She also had her own charities that she was part of and very passionate about. Such as helping those with HIV/AIDS and those who suffer from leukaemia along with so much more. Sadly her marriage with Prince Charles was not meant to last. Her marriage fell apart in December 1992, but it was no surprise as her and her husband’s public lives were already publicly known off. Princess Diana was confronted by media about possible lovers of her and she confirmed some of her relationships. Princess Diana and Prince Charles soon got a divorce after the Queen asked them to do so on 28 August 1996.
Diana’s death shocked the nation, it was a terrible loss for those who loved her. She died in a car accident that took place after she left the Ritz Hotel with her then boyfriend Dodi Fayed. They drove at high speed with a Mercedes S280 and crashed into a pillar, the driver and Mr Fayed died on the scene ,but Diana died in the hospital due to injuries.
Appling victimology knowledge onto the case explains the case in depth. Firstly, to view Diana in a legalistic way as a victim is wrong as it was an accident and not direct contact crime. Constructionist states that a feud needs to happen between people and there was no known feud. Victimological blames the victims for any victimisation as the victim is in control. So Princess Diana is complicated to categorise as any of these with this information, but later it was stated that Diana’s death was not an accident as the driver was drunk and neglecting the safety of his passengers. Thus Princess Diana is a legalistic victim. According to the Positivist, Critical and Radical Paradigms Diana could have either prevented her own victimisation or the fact that her living conditions were different than those of others and that she could have chosen between being a heroic victim or pathetic victim. Which is all true she could have denied the diver driving them seeing as he was drunk, her living conditions did contribute to her victimisation seeing as she was at a Hotel that evening. Lastly, the theories of victimology. Victim precipitation states that victims initiate their on victimisation, which in this case could have been the truth since the accident could have been prevented. Lifestyle exposure states that one’s lifestyle, whether or not a person engage in dangerous activities or not will affect the victimisation. As Princess Diana was in the public eye and did not necessarily engage in dangerous activities , she might have gained some dislikes from certain people. Lastly Routine activities, Princess Diana did have a schedule which could have exposed her to more dangerous such as the paparazzi taking to many photos that fateful night that contributed to the accident. The accident could have been avoided, but due to her lack of judgement three life had gone lost and the case was ruled as a murder.
To conclude, with more knowledge of victimology people are less likely to be victimised as they are more informed about the history, paradigms and theories. People will become more aware of possible crime situations and how to prevent victimisation. Thus, with knowledge comes power and safety.